If you’re running for office or advancing a cause, you absolutely need an email newsletter. It’s a low-cost way to keep your supporters engaged, raise money, get out the vote and draw new people into the fold.

While political campaign email newsletters are relatively cheap, they’re not easy. Here are 9 tips to send more effective emails.

1) Be personal

It doesn’t always feel like it, but email is a personal medium. Your recipients are allowing you access to their personal space, something they read often before they even get out of bed in the morning. Even if you don’t write the whole thing, your email newsletter should come from YOU, the candidate or executive director, in most cases and have your own personal spin on things. Don’t be as stilted as you might be in another medium.

2) Offer something exclusive

In today’s internet world, everybody wants your email address. That means potential readers are going to be more judicious in deciding who to give out that information to. Give your newsletter recipients a reason to subscribe. Offer a look inside your campaign that doesn’t go out to the general public. Give them an early heads up about things you’re announcing. Your email newsletter subscribers are probably among your most dedicated supporters. Make them feel special.

3) Have a clear call to action

Before you hit send, stop to think: What do I want the reader to do with this email? What is it’s purpose? Every newsletter you send should have a specific action you have in mind for the reader to take. Perhaps this is sharing something on their Facebook feed. Perhaps its signing up to volunteer. Maybe it’s giving money. But in any case, you need to know what it is.

4) Don’t just ask for money

Many political campaigns have gotten in the bad habit of making every single newsletter they send about raising money, $5 here of $20 there. It’s good to be in the habit of encouraging small donations — it’s a low barrier to entry way to get people involved in your campaign and almost certain to vote for you. But you’ll quickly fatigue your readers if you do nothing but fundraise off your list.

5) Invest in building your list

An email newsletter will only be as effective as its recipient list. You can have the best content and messaging in the world, but if nobody’s reading your email, you won’t be able to achieve your goals.

Make an email sign-up a major part of your campaign homepage and direct readers to it. Collect emails at fundraising events, town halls, meet-and-greets and when you knock on doors. If you make contact with somebody, try to get their email address.

6) Include high-quality images

While writing for the web and writing for email newsletters is a little different, both need strong, compelling images. Every newsletter you send should have at least one visual element — and make sure it’s a good one. Avoid stock images and staged photos. A good action shot is best. It’s yet another reason to focus on taking photos when you’re on the trail.

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr. Photo by Daniel Wilkinson via Flickr (Creative Commons).

7) Build trust in your subject line

You might see some campaigns pull a bait-and-switch with a gimmicky email subject line meant to trick people into clicking. If you’re running a campaign with tens of thousands of emails and have the resources to A/B test subject lines and track fundraising conversions, then go for it. If not, stick to simple, straightforward subject lines in emails that deliver exactly what is promised. You can still be interesting. Just be truthful.

8) Set a schedule

For email newsletters to be effective, they need to be regular. Shoot for sending at the same time and day each week. That routine will make sure you stick to publishing the emails and keep you top-of-mind in your supporters’ lives.

9) Hold a conversation

The other underutilized aspect of email is that it’s a two-way street. Most email newsletter clients will let people hit reply and send a message back. Make sure you go this route and encourage your readers to reply. And then answer every note.

Don’t worry — it’s highly unlikely that you will be inundated with messages. If for some reason you do, it’s perfectly fine email etiquette to send a simple response saying you’ll get back to them soon. Engagement at that level is a good problem to have.

Longleaf Politics is an email newsletter company — and we can help you succeed in your next campaign. Find out how.

Cover photo at Green Joe’s Coffee Company in Greensboro by Andrew Neel on Unsplash.

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